Mastercard Expands Cryptocurrency Program for Crypto Card Issuers

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Mastercard is reaching out to cryptocurrency firms and encouraging them to apply to become partners as part of its newly-expanded cryptocurrency card program.

On July 20, Mastercard said it was simplifying access to its Accelerate program for crypto card issuers, allowing applicants to be onboarded as partners “in a matter of weeks.” 

Now enhanced for crypto card applicants, the Accelerate program gives partners support with their market entry, continued growth and international expansion. 

New crypto partners will be assisted in integrating Mastercard’s technology and will be in a position to benefit from the firm’s cybersecurity expertise and market research.

While it is streamlining access to its program for crypto firms, Mastercard has emphasized that all partners must comply with its “core principles.”

These include providing robust consumer protection (ensuring privacy and security for users), operating in compliance with relevant laws and regulations, such as Anti-Money Laundering rules, and establishing a level playing field for all stakeholders, such as financial institutions, merchants and mobile network operators.

Raj Dhamodharan, executive vice president of digital asset and blockchain products and partnerships at Mastercard, said:

“The cryptocurrency market continues to mature, and Mastercard is driving it forward, creating safe and secure experiences for consumers and businesses in today’s digital economy.”

Wirex becomes Mastercard’s first crypto partner with principal membership

Parallel to reaching out to crypto card partners, Mastercard has also announced that London-based crypto payment processor Wirex has become the first native cryptocurrency platform to be granted a Mastercard principal membership, which will allow it to directly issue crypto payment cards. 

Thanks to the membership, Wirex card users will be able to immediately convert their crypto holdings into fiat currency, which can be spent at points of sale that accept Mastercard. Currency will thus enter Mastercard’s network in the form of fiat, not cryptocurrency.

Wirex CEO and co-founder Pavel Matveev has said that the membership “represents a growing interest and recognition in the acceptance of cryptocurrency by leading bodies and regulators.” He added that partnering with Mastercard will help the firm to realize its “vision of empowering everyone to experience a world where all currencies, traditional and crypto, are equal.”

Wirex is regulated by the U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority and has a license to issue crypto cards in Europe. Earlier this year, it hit over 3 million active users, noting that increasing numbers of them are “not typically hardcore cryptocurrency users.” 

Prior to partnering with Wirex, Mastercard collaborated with blockchain payments provider BitPay this June to launch a prepaid card for crypto users in the United States.